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Development of Egypt’s New Administrative Capital Hits Snag

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s plan to move the country’s seat of government from Cairo to a new administrative capital (NAC) in the desert is hitting some roadblocks. Construction on the $58 billion city was launched in 2015, and is meant to be completed by mid-2020. The NAC, envisioned as an alternative to densely populated and congested Cairo, is expected to house some 6.5 million people as well as the embassies of dozens of countries. However, the Sisi government has run into difficulties finding enough skilled laborers to build the “smart city,” and there have been delays in raising the 1 trillion Egyptian pounds – mainly through land sales and local and foreign investments – that are necessary to finish the project. “We need very extensive financing and the state doesn’t have money to give me,” asserted Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, a formal general who heads the company building the NAC. He noted that about 20 percent of the funds thus far collected have come from abroad, including some $4.5 billion from China. If completed, the NAC will extend over some 700 square kilometers, with the first phase – spanning about a quarter of the total area – containing ministries, residential neighborhoods, a diplomatic quarter and a financial district.